One of Undiscovered Kitchen’s biggest supporters from the very beginning has been Nello’s! I’m so excited to share their story, what makes them so special and why we love supporting this hardworking and mindful company!
Nello’s Sauce, made from scratch in small batches and sourced locally from North Carolina, was created in 2010 by Neal (a.k.a. “Nello”) McTighe in his kitchen and with his wife Heather by his side. Neal’s love for Italy runs deep! He lived (and ate) in Italy for three years, has a PhD in Italian, and has taught Italian for over a decade!
The idea for Nello’s Sauce came to him early one morning, when he asked himself, “Why not share my love of Italy with as many people as possible?” … and as is always the case, the rest is history! He sold his very first jar in January 2011 and appeared on store shelves in June 2011. Since then Nello’s has been growing rapidly becoming one of the leading premium tomato sauce companies in the southeast.
Nello’s Premium Marinara Flavors (available in 25oz and 14oz):
- SOUTHERN-CRAFTED PREMIUM MARINARA: Rich unadulterated tomato, garlic, and herb palate. Perfectly balanced. Inspired by Nello’s great-grandmother, Angelina, of Carife, Italy. Serve with traditional pasta and baked dishes.
- HOT PEPPER PASTA SAUCE: Love heat? Then you’ll love this, the finest arrabbiata sauce on the planet! The bright ripe tomato flavor mingles with hot spicy red pepper for a pleasant kick. Pair with meats, pastas, or breads. Perfect as a pizza base or for spicy meatball subs.
- PIEDMONT POMODORO SAUCE W/LAVENDER & THYME: One word: Elegant. Features lavender and thyme. A unique sauce for the cook looking for something modern and innovative. Soft, yet rich tomato flavor with an herb and floral profile. Pairs well with bread, pasta, cheeses, pork, poultry, game, or fish.
- Or TRY THEM ALL!
- They’ve also JUST released their NEWEST Heirloom Organic Biodynamic Marinara which has quite the story which you can read below!
The Nello’s mission is to create the world’s most outstanding and innovative tomato sauces – but they go above and beyond with 4 CORE VALUES:
- FIGHTING HUNGER. Nello’s has partnered with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, making annual donations of Nello’s Sauce.
- U.S. AGRICULTURE. Nello’s believes that what goes into their jars should be a result of the hard working American farmers. They use the highest quality vine-ripened field-grown tomatoes from farmers who grow the most beautiful tomatoes in the world and who use only age-old farming methods such as open pollination and hybridization (NO genetic modification).
- U.S. LABOR. Nello’s cares deeply about growing the US economy and always looks their local community when hiring. Their goal is to be a leader and to further inspire, nourish, and help the community and American economy as a whole.
- HEALTHY EATING AND LIFESTYLE. Nello’s produces sauces that you can feel GREAT about eating and sharing with your family and friends. Everything they create is clean and simple without any added sugars, almost always lower in sodium (vs competitor brands) and only using premium cold press extra virgin olive oil (no low budget oils here!). You’ll NEVER find tomato pastes or processed tomato concentrates in their recipes – Nello’s ONLY uses whole vine-ripened field-grown tomatoes.
WHY NELLO’S ROCKS!
What you WON’T find in Nello’s:
- NO Tomato Paste
- NO Tomato Puree
- A LOT LESS salt that other brands
- NO meat
- NO dairy
- NO cholesterol
- NO high fructose corn syrup
- NO MSG
- NO gluten
- NO added sugars
- NO soy-based or corn-based oils (only the best EVOO)
- NO genetic modification
Simply put … Nello’s is all about simple ingredients for a superior taste!
This year, Nello’s has gone where nobody else has gone before! (I’d like to continue this story by unveiling an organic farm on Mars but don’t worry, it’s JUST as impressive!) Because of their dedication to supporting local U.S. agriculture, the economy, local workers and the BEST ingredients, Nello’s asked, “Why not produce the world’s most exceptional jarred tomato sauce in the U.S. out of N.C. soil and by N.C. hands?” … and that’s exactly what they’ve done with the very first Nello’s Heirloom Organic Biodynamic Marinara!
This one of a kind journey to the jar brings together the ENTIRE supply chain in an effort to create the most transparent food system on the market. Nello’s has literally turned back the clock on agriculture and food production, offering the whole story from seed to shelf through which we, the consumers, can see the great care, passion and love that has been invested in every stage of the product.
THE PROCESS: Not a single pesticide or ANYTHING artificial comes even close to the farm or packaging using glass with 100% post-consumer recycled paper labels, manufactured carbon neutral by hydroelectric power (how cool is that!).
Now you can taste the authentic flavors and pride of the South in every jar of Nello’s Heirloom Organic Biodynamic Marinara!
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH NELLO’S
Who are the business founders and when did you launch the business?
That’s me (Neal McTighe!) I started Nello’s in 2010, officially launching the original marinara sauce in 2011.
What inspired you to start your business?
Many roads led me to Nello’s: from my love of Italy to my love of food. But ultimately it was my personality. I knew in my heart that entrepreneurship fit my goals and aspirations.
Where do you currently make your product?
All of Nello’s are made right here in North Carolina. Scaling a food business is no easy task, but I love that I’ve been able to do it right here at home.
Did you have a background in the food/drink industry when you started?
Not even a smidgen! I hold a PhD in Italian, and have only taught and worked in book publishing prior. But my education in the humanities has proved to be invaluable however as it has allowed me to be creative and see the big picture instead of just the building blocks. Business school can’t teach you that.
A business idea that was left on the editing room floor?
My idea for a juniper-based pasta sauce called the Piney Mountain Pomodoro! Tasted terrible, no matter how much I tried.
What are some examples of rookie mistakes you made when starting out?
The first that comes to mind—on my first labels I forgot to add the net weight. Oh my. That’s a no no.
Your biggest business challenge to date?
Marketing! As of December 2015, Nello’s is available in nearly 700 stores, not to mention through Plated and other venues. Nello’s is still a stranger in many places, so telling the story is the challenge. Marketing is truly an art, as money is not the deciding factor about who wins in marketing. Creativity is.
How do you stay motivated in the face of competition?
My wife and my son. I love them with all of my heart and know that they count on me. That’s a driver like no other.
What’s the strangest customer request or feedback you’ve gotten?
Maybe not strangest, but I always laugh when people say (and it happens a lot), “You should get Oprah to put you in her magazine!” Or “Get Ellen to invite you on her show!” Of course . . . yes, I know. I should!
What’s your main business goal for 2016?
My goal remains constant: to grow, grow, grow. I want as many people to try Nello’s as possible, as only then will they see the huge difference between Nello’s and the mass-market sauces.
What makes your company unique?
This year we launched the first ever U.S.-grown, U.S.-made certified Biodynamic Marinara Sauce! Also, we have the only pasta sauce on the market that uses lavender as a characteristic herb. It’s delicious.
Advice for someone with a great artisan food or drink idea?
Allow yourself 6-12 months to do extensive market research before launching. Attend some trade shows. Contact brands for advice. I started Nello’s without doing much, and I had to make a lot of changes (most avoidable) along the way.
TRY NELLO’S TODAY!
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